AUBURN — Today, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order on Federal Research and Development in Support of Domestic Manufacturing and the United States Jobs to Encourage “Invent it Here, Make it Here” in Industries of the Future while visiting Auburn Manufacturing, Inc. The Executive Order is an attempt to ensure that inventions resulting from federal funding benefit American producers and workers whenever possible.
Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, released a statement in support of the Executive Order:
“For more than a decade, I’ve fought to ensure that when the state spends taxpayer dollars on goods and services, Maine workers and American manufacturers have the opportunity to benefit. At every turn, I’ve been told that it was too complicated, that couldn’t be done or that it violated federal rules. Well, today the President of the United States signed an Executive Order making clear that we are a country that invests in American workers and manufacturing because it’s good for our economy and the right thing to do. It’s high time that Maine follows suit.
“Buying American, hiring American and building American aren’t about discriminating against workers, manufacturers and products from other countries but rather about lifting up the workers, businesses and products in our own backyard. It’s about putting our taxpayer dollars to work to create good-paying jobs, boost local economies and establish a robust local supply chain. This includes processing plants. We’ve seen the widespread economic benefits for potato farmers when there is a locally owned food processor in the area with the Penobscot McCrum facility in Washburn. But we need more across our heritage industries.
“This January, Maine lawmakers will have the opportunity to pass Buy American, Build Maine legislation and I hope we rise to the occasion. This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats — it’s about putting our money where it matters — in Maine people, Maine jobs and Maine goods.”
President Jackson has been a fervent champion of policies that support Maine workers and American manufactured products. He has introduced Buy American, Build Maine legislation in at least three different legislative sessions. The most recent proposal passed both the Senate and the House but was vetoed by the governor in 2021. A similar proposal was vetoed by the previous governor in 2013.
Kathie Leonard, CEO of Auburn Manufacturing, has spoken out in support of President Jackson’s efforts, saying in written testimony, “We see this legislation as a further rebuilding effort of the Buy American Act, essential to our national security and to those who are part of that US workforce here in Maine.” She also authored an op-ed in support of a previous iteration of the measure.
Auburn Manufacturing is a leading manufacturer of advanced textiles for extreme-heat environments located in Auburn. The company has experienced direct harm caused by unfair foreign markets and the lack of support for support American manufacturing. In 2017, Auburn Manufacturing won a landmark lawsuit against China for unfair international trade practices or what’s known as “anti-dumping laws.” Essentially, Chinese manufacturing companies financially backed by the government rigged the market in an attempt to monopolize an entire industry. By flooding the market with products at prices well below the market rate and the cost to manufacture goods, and operating at a financial loss, these companies tried to push American competitors, like Auburn Manufacturing, out of business.
“Buy American” policies have been in place at the federal level dating back to 1933. In 2021 President Biden signed an Executive Order in strengthening “Buy American” policies across the federal government. Later that year, the Biden Administration unveiled the “American Jobs Plan” and proposed new rules that strengthened the Buy American Act, increasing the amount of American-manufactured goods purchased by the federal government and closing existing loopholes in the federal policy.
President Jackson will continue to push the state to adopt Buy American, Build Maine legislation. The Legislature voted to carry over the most recent iteration of this proposal to the legislative session that begins in January.